China’s national security more important than Hong Kong’s autonomy, says director of Beijing’s liaison office

Wang Zhimin (王志民), Director of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), and a member of the Communist Party Central Committee, welcomed the guilty verdict of 9 democracy activists and claimed that China’s national security supersedes Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy.

Wang made the remarks in a speech at a forum hosted by the Hong Kong Policy Research Institute on Monday (15 April).

According to the Hong Kong news website Ming Pao, Wang Zhimin stated that the conviction of 9 democracy activists was a “just verdict” and “an important page in the history of rule of law and justice in Hong Kong.”

On April 9, a group of activists, including sociology professor Chan Kin-man, 60, law professor Benny Tai, 54, and Baptist minister Chu Yiu-ming, 75, were found guilty of committing public nuisance for their role in the 2014 Occupy Central movement that eventually culminated in the so-called Umbrella Revolution.

The movement, which aimed at pressuring Beijing to grant Hong Kong the right to choose its leader by universal suffrage, was suppressed and protesters removed from the sites which they had occupied.

“Many citizens feel that the conviction of the 9 defendants is a victory for Hong Kong and the rule of law,” Wang said. “And this conviction marks the legal redline for all illegal activities like Occupy Central which severely threaten public security and disrupt social stability.”

Wang accused the activists of “conspiring with anti-Chinese foreign organizations” and “selling out Hong Kong to seek glory.” The accusation that the Occupy movement was directed by foreign forces conspiring with traitorous elements is a trope used by the Chinese Communist leadership since 2014.

Wang claimed that Hong Kong needs to “squarely face and resolve existing shortcomings and risks in its legal system to protect national security.”

“Safeguarding national security is an important constitutional duty of Hong Kong,” he added, emphasizing that as far as national security is concerned, “there is only the duty of one country, not two systems. ” (只有一國之責,沒有兩制之分).

One country, two systems” was a framework proposed in the 1980s by Chinese Communist leader Deng Xiaoping to integrate the British colony of Hong Kong into the People’s Republic of China as a Special Administrative Region with a high degree of autonomy.

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